Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Having sex for virginity!

I was very proud of one of my pupils today as I marked her work. She wrote:

"I believe all war is pointless and avoidable. It is my belief that fighting for peace is like having sex for virginity. Once a war begins, peace is already lost."

Go Girl!

Needless to say, she has sanitised this for my ears. The original version of this phrase is somewhat more graphic!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

10 step plan for peace!

When talking to Palestinians recently, they said that most people in their country had lost any sense of hope. They saw no possibility of peace talks ever giving a fair deal to Palestine, because it is always a discussion between unequal parties. This loss of hope is leading to ever more radicalisation, which only makes matters worse.

Despite saying all this, I liked the video below because I felt that what is being presented is a fair, equitable solution to the Palestinian situation. Will it ever happen? I think we have to believe sometimes, because we have no alternative.

This video is a little long, but for anyone interested in the Palestinian crisis I recommend 02.57 - 23.20. At the end a Jewish theologian makes a point which is very similar to my post here:

"Christians don't know how to stand up to Jews when they're wrong... What is it about Christians? What is it about Christianity?"

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Remembering War!

I have long felt uneasy about some of the ways Remembrance Sunday is kept. The language, at times, seems to glorify war. In fact, the term "glorious dead" is frequently heard. The idea that these people have "won our freedom" is also not always true. But, even where there may be some truth in it, it communicates the message about redemptive violence I don't feel entirely comfortable with. For me, remembering should be what it was always intended to be - remembering war so that it would never be repeated. It was instituted so that the First World War would be the 'war to end all wars'.

So, it was very good this morning to hear Jonathan Bartley of Ekklesia, on the radio, echoing some of these same ideas. They have done a full report on the subject, which is worth a read and can be found here.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Christians supporting Israel

I love this picture. It was drawn by a pupil in Palestine and given to me as part of the exchange programme we are running. It shows the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the way Palestinians are forbidden access to it, even though it is in their city. This only touches the tip, though, of the human rights abuses Palestinians face on a daily basis. Another picture given to me (since destroyed in the rain) was a picture of a pupil’s home – a tent. His parents were forced out of their homes 40 years ago and are now living in camps. They have lost all rights to their homes and aren’t even allowed to travel into Israel, let alone go back to their home towns. Every day Palestinians face humiliating and intimidating treatment at the hands of Israeli soldiers. An enormous wall has been erected around the West Bank. One school we are linked with is on the wrong side of the wall. Each day pupils must go through the wall. It is only open between 7am and 7.30. Sometimes soldiers arrive early and pupils miss getting through. They have to wait at the wall until 2 o’clock before it opens again.

I know a lot of this is familiar to most of you who are reading this, but I just want to make a point about Christian allegiances in this conflict. Many Christians have an instinctive support for Israel, based on the fact that they were the people of God in the Old Testament and that they were promised the land of Israel “for ever as an everlasting possession.” Whatever you think of these promises, and the extent to which they are still applicable today, it seems to me there is one thing we could all agree on: Israel, in the Bible, was never beyond criticism – even damning criticism - when it neglected justice. Jesus called Jerusalem to repentance (Luke 13:34). In fact the promises to Israel were conditional (Lev. 20:22) and in the New Testament, John the Baptist railed at those who claimed exemption from judgement by claiming, "We have Abraham as our father." (Matthew 3:9) We, also, should not support Israel while it engages in the confiscation of property and racial apartheid, simply on the basis that Abraham was their father. It was always the extent to which they followed justice that determined whether or not they were the people of God.

“Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.” (Lev. 20:22)